LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Greatest Hindrance To Genuine Sanctification

Okay, so you have stopped playing at being a Christian, and have begun to take it all very seriously. You know that you are supposed to be one way, and hate it when you continue to be another - and so you feel guilty all the time, and you sense within a growing concern and maybe even a little quiet frustration - why oh why am I growing colder rather than hotter? Why does it seem that my brain wants more, but my flesh wants less? Why is it that I seem to be less sincere today that I was five years ago? I know I want to be sanctified, and that I want to be as holy as the name I bear (Christian) demands - I want to walk worthy of Christ!

Yet it seems there is some hindrance to the whole process, the more I try and apprehend it the farther I am from it! Would that I could simply identify the problem perhaps I might be able to put it in an eternal grave, and dance upon that grave in joy forevermore.

Well, I am going to tell you what, if this describes you, the problem likely is -- but you will find that while articulating the problem is very helpful to your brain, simply having the knowledge won't solve the problem; the problem isn't entirely rooted in mere ignorance, it is really a spiritual problem, and while spiritual problems need to be understood, yet it isn't the understanding of them that sets us free. The Lord sets us free, and when He does, we are free indeed!

How frustrating it must have been to ask, "What must I do so that I do the works of God" and receive, instead of a practical, "do this, do that" answer, to receive what seems to be an esoteric riddle, "believe on Him who sent Me." Yet as I grow I see with greater clarity the brilliance - the concrete, literal truth in that answer. Sometimes the sheer perfection of scripture magnifies the deity behind the truth, and this is one of those verses that for me is fire and life - a verse that booms throughout all creation - God must be real, for the level of precision in this truth is so profound that no human could possibly have uttered it. Yet the problem will be solved by the same truth found in this verse.

Now, your problem is pretty simple once you isolate the main reason many of us desire to be sanctified. No, it isn't for God's glory, though it ought to be. The main reason most of us desire sanctification is because when we sin, we feel like we are hypocrites, we hate ourselves for giving into the flesh, and what we really want is to be free from the overwhelming sense of condemnation.

I mean seriously, we agree with God that our sin deserves condemnation; we know that God is the one who condemns sin; we know that God knows our innermost thoughts, and sees us for the hypocrites we are; therefore we conclude (with our feelings at least) that God cannot like us in this state, and our desire therefore it to become pleasing to God by exiting this state.

Do you see how subtle pursuing God in our flesh has become?

We desire to be pleasing because above all, we are still thinking that it is the things we do that will make us pleasing to God. This is, of course, a very subtle form of the error made by the Galatians. They were seeking to be sanctified, not by faith, but by human effort.

Look and see that you are not, and can never become acceptable to God by your own effort. You are coming to the plow, but looking back all the time. You cannot look back brother, sister. Put your hand on the plow and plow! You are either right with God in Christ, or you are not right with God. You cannot "make" yourself right - if you could Christ died for nothing. Look and see. Chew on that - be convinced. If you are in Christ, you are acceptable to God. Period.

If I continue to trust in myself to please God, it comes at the expense of trusting in Christ. I can never believe God loves me, and therefore never be free to love Him as I ought, so long as I am trying to do the impossible - "get right" with God by being good. The reason we continue on the mouse-wheel of works is because we don't really trust that God loves us without it. When we begin to see that the reason our sanctification is so stunted, beggarly, difficult, and tearful is because we have been pursuing it out of an irrational fear that if we don't do this God -will- reject us, then we may be ready to reexamine how God sanctifies us: which is by grace alone through faith alone.

You see, love is a far easier yoke than fear. Faith brings forth love, but effort only fear.

15 Comments:

Blogger mark pierson said...

I am amazed at how many Christians do not have the joy of His salvation. Too much introspection, I think. What about proceeding forward with a contrite heart and gazing AT HIM!!!

November 29, 2007 7:18 AM

 
Blogger donsands said...

I am such a sinner. And when MY good deeds are visible for the world to see, they cover the sin underneath: My lust & pride. And I am a hypocrite.


When I live by faith, and proclaim Christ is all my righteousness, because He died for me, and so I love Him, then, I have found, my deeds are of Him, and 100% pure grace.

That's the plow plowing I think.

As Paul said, "But by the grace of God I am what I am".

November 29, 2007 8:04 AM

 
Blogger Marcian said...

Yes absolutely, on all accounts. Too much introspection at the hypocrisy. Not taking my eyes off myself to gaze at Him, because of my own unworthiness. But that IS the good news of the gospel. We ARE unworthy. Yet we are welcome to embrace Him and dine with Him. Oh, that I would stop being so concerned with my own unworthiness and sin. Good good post, Daniel, again, just what I needed to hear, just when I needed to hear it.

November 29, 2007 8:39 AM

 
Blogger Missy said...

Excellent post, Daniel. Thank you for sharing it.

November 29, 2007 9:20 AM

 
Blogger Missy said...

Oh, Daniel, I hope you don't mind that I linked to this post today??

November 29, 2007 9:56 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Ditto.

You've pretty much described me these days.

And yet, there's this niggling at me to be still - this kind of pull beyond my intellect. Something drawing me to "know" God - as He "is" - for Who He "is" - not the "doing" part of Him or me, but the "being" part.

That probably sounds jumbled, but your post more eloquently states much of what I've been tormenting myself with over the past weeks, perhaps months.

I'm slowly moving, I hope, beyond this anguish stage regarding my own lack to His very real completion. And trusting, fully trusting, in Him to be - as He is - the author and finisher of my faith.

I think in some ways, it's an egotism thing to look at ourselves for *anything* regarding our faith and sanctification. Certainly we are called to obey, but that obedience (I am learning) comes only out of love for Him, not out of the sense of obligation (must do this or that and then I've done my Christian duty).

I find it amazing how similar we can be to Jews or Pharisees - in our sense of "duty" rather than love.

It's interesting that a sense of our own sinfulness and lack is the place wherein that love for Him blossoms. That only out of a sense of how unable and unworthy we are can we appreciate (for lack of better word) His worth and grace.

But we have to let go of ourselves to do it - and that's where I (at least) stumble. In His mercy, He continues to hold me up.

November 29, 2007 10:40 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Good points. I think it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking justification by faith and sanctification by works. Jerry Bridges wrote and excellent book on this subject called, Transforming Grace.

I believe, since all believers are spirit led, this grace will inspire the works of sanctification without a forced mechanical obedience of sanctification by works. He used the term treadmill where you used the term mouse-wheel.

Good post and a good reminder that sanctification is also by grace.

November 29, 2007 10:41 AM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

"Too much introspection, I think. What about proceeding forward with a contrite heart and gazing AT HIM!!!

Yep.

Daniel, great post. As always, sir. You are most gracious.

November 29, 2007 10:57 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Gayla,
That is a good quote by Mark. As the hymn says, "Keep your eyes upon Jesus......"

November 29, 2007 2:07 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Hey, how did my comment get up there three times?
I only sent it once.
That's weird...

November 29, 2007 3:24 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan, I just deleted the other two deletions. That way the meta stays nice and clean... ;-)

I don't know why Blogger does that some times.

November 29, 2007 3:41 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Thanks, Daniel, for deleting my deletions. May I ask how you did so? I'd rather not leave a trail of crumbs for others to have to clean up after me. :-/

Btw, doesn't this whole post - re: greatest hindrance to sanctification really boil down to two things? Pride and unbelief.

Seems to me that our own egocentric pride and unbelief are the root of all sin. And if I had to boil it down to one - I'd say unbelief is the granddaddy. Because if we *truly* believed - if we could "see "God as we see in a mirror - our pride would be smashed to smithereens.

November 29, 2007 6:31 PM

 
Blogger Bhedr said...

Good stuff brother.

November 29, 2007 6:40 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan, I think both the one who posts the post and the admin of the blog have power to delete comments in the thread by clicking the trashcan icon at the bottom of each comment.

I think reliance of self instead of God shows itself both in unbelief, and in pride, such that one could make a case for either depending on the vantage point, though I think anyone who seriously and soberly looks into scripture ought to see enough of God to have their pride smashed to smithereens. ;-)

November 29, 2007 7:44 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Thanks, Daniel.

Incidentally, I did delete my own comments by clicking the trash can and it got rid of them, but left that unsightly trail ("comment deleted by author") that you were able to sweep away. How you did that is what I would like to know. Do you think that only the post's author and/or blog administrator can do so?

I agree 100 percent re: searching the Scriptures soberly and seriously, although I daresay it wasn't until exposure to the doctrines of grace that I felt any of the "fear" of God as written in Scripture. I think there are a lot of Christians (in the US and in the West overall) in churches, many of whom read their Bibles with sincerity and great interest, but who - without correct doctrine - either read over or misunderstand the "hard stuff."

And a lot of us (me at least) who were raised in dead churches, well, unraveling poor understanding takes time. I'm finding myself praying what you mentioned once somewhere - you asked God to open up the Scriptures for you. I need to do that.

November 30, 2007 9:25 AM

 

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